Stockholm – A series of arrests of Muslims in Sweden threatens to tarnish the country’s image, as it moves to convict six Muslim leaders, including five imams, under an immigration law that violates due process, justifying this abuse within a narrative of “extremism”.

All of them were arrested under a highly politicised immigration law that give the Swedish police and investigating agencies extensive powers while limiting access to due process for the accused.

The head of The Swedish Bar Association said in a recent interview that the legislation being invoked in these cases is “problematic” and that the lack of transparency in the cases also risks undermining the rule of law.

All except one of the men arrested are of an Arab background. They are all accused of ‘extremism’ and ‘Salafism’ by so-called ‘terror-experts’ – allegations that do not amount to criminal offences, but which in public discourse are being treated as such. All of them stand to be stripped of their residence permits and expelled.

Normal rules regarding due process and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty are discarded when Muslims are under investigation. Otherwise, the imams would have been arrested under ordinary criminal law. The laws that have been invoked allow basic principles of justice to be easily discarded, and so-called ‘evidence’ to be classified, unavailable to challenge.

The open and compassionate image that Sweden has touted to the world is now cracking – in its place a fearful and oppressive regime is emerging, intent on instilling fear in the Muslim community. We call for solidarity with Muslims in Sweden, and adherence to the rule of law.

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